Remembering Jim Harris
Social activist Jim Harris who lived for truth and justice, died Friday, June 3, 2011, released from his struggle with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer.
Founder of Progressive Secretary (with Pat Murphy), he made lobbying for peace and justice easier. Committed to working for social justice throughout his life, Jim started Progressive Secretary in 1997 as he was recovering from leukemia. He said that work helped him get well and heal from subsequent lymphoma. Progressive Secretary is working for a better world for all.
Self-identifying as a Jew, a Quaker, an atheist, and a Marxist, Jim Harris was a member of the Sacramento Friends Meeting and previously was a member of the San Jose Meeting. As a young student, Jim joined the Civil Rights movement, going to Mississippi to help SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and was, as he put it, “a foot soldier” in the movement.
Earning a Master’s degree (MS) in electrical engineering at Columbia University, Jim was a computer consultant, software developer, programmer, teacher, and union organizer. He worked with Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Jim was President of a trade school, Technical Training Center in San Jose, which trained students for the computer industry. He created an innovative curriculum in which students with minimal education backgrounds could get the equivalency of a two-year associate’s degree in six months and obtain good jobs.
A gifted musician, Jim played many instruments, including trumpet, clarinet, saxophone, piano, penny whistle, and tuba. He played with several local Dixieland bands, including Jerry Kahale’s Good Time Levee Stompers, Billie and Her Buddies, and Ned’s Jazzboat Shuffle. He played Jewish music with Bennie Benjamini and Klezmer, the soul music of Eastern European Jews, in groups with others, including good friends Joe Liebling, Corey Weinstein, and Robin Goodfellow.
Born Nov 13, 1940, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Mac and Rebecca (Goldie) Harris, Jim lived in California from age three, growing up in San Francisco and Oakland. He is survived by older brother Jerry Harris, sister-in-law Connie Harris, daughter Diana Harris-Quinones, granddaughter Amalia Ferrer-Quinones, partner Cathy Hodge McCoid, nephews, nieces, and many friends. He was preceded in death by his brother Jack.